Something that can be seen as traditional as face paint in national colours, or complaining about the new ball being used for the World Cup, is competing teams releasing a World Cup song in the months leading up to the tournament.
A large majority of them have been largely forgettable and to the level of an awful Eurovision Song Contest entry (Germany’s effort in 1994 for example if you dare look for it on youtube). At least with Eurovision an awful song used to be followed with a witty Wogan put down. Even Australia had the SBS reality show ‘Song for the Socceroos’ in 2006 to pick a song that would be the official song for the Socceroos at the World Cup in Germany. The winning song sank without a trace.
One country that has kind of done it right when it comes to this department though is England. Their first song for the 1966 World Cup was a track called ‘World Cup Willie’ by the king of skiffle himself Lonnie Donegan that was a major hit. The subsequent releases were lacking the success of that first effort before Keith Allen (comedian and father of laddette pop star Lily) linked up with the band New Order to form EnglandNewOrder and come up with a song for the upcoming 1990 tournament in Italy.
With the track recorded the original name of the track to be called ‘E for England’ but the English FA thought it might be construed as a song promoting the now ballooning use of the drug ecstasy so the name was changed to ‘World in Motion’.
The track featured the usual New Order ‘sound’ with samples of Kenneth Wolstenholme’s commentary from the 1966 Final also spliced in. The track featured then stars Peter Beardsley, then Liverpool captain and now ex Perth Glory coach Steve McMahon, Paul Gascoigne and Jamaican born star John Barnes who managed to show off his rapping ‘skills’ in the song which gave the track it’s x factor and bookmark as a memorable football track even if the lyrics were non-sequential random comments that made no sense much like Blondie’s hit ‘Rapture’.
Some part novelty. Some part New Order Classic. The single was a huge hit and was number one in England as the excitement built for the upcoming World Cup. The track also surprisingly made the US Top 10 and was even a big hit in Ireland (who would play England in this World Cup) and West Germany. The song also made 21 in Australia. The music video also featured the band and England squad miming through the number with the members of New Order admitting in interviews years after that they were ‘coked off their heads’ when they shot the video with the footballers.
It was the first indication of the wave of ‘Cool Britannia’ that would come along a few years later and a team football song that was actually a worldwide chart topper meant it was a memorable moment.